Regarding Eileen Barayasarra’s March 29 letter on gun violence and the mentally ill: Eileen uses anecdotal evidence to inaccurately establish a far greater relationship between mental illness and gun violence than accurately exists. A basic search will show data (in the form of papers and research performed by respected doctors and professional groups in the field, for example) that although mental illness is a piece of the gun violence problem, it is hardly the entire factual picture. If Eileen had researched this a bit more, she would have become aware that the overall contribution of people with serious mental illness to violent crimes is only about 3 percent (those involving firearms is even smaller), or that the overwhelming majority of mental illness sufferers are not violent. Addressing “Untreated mental illness [is the problem]”, as Eileen wrote, is an issue that does deserve attention, but won’t be solved with horribly inaccurate summations that utilize problem solving using a pinhole-size view of the issue. To advance this topic intelligently, thoroughly, and with due respect, we should, instead, learn more about these relationships before issuing incomplete and inaccurate summaries that do little more than further the stigmatization of those with mental illness.
Roger Somazzi, Meridian